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Joseph Sonnabend

South African physician and HIV/AIDS researcher

Died when: 88 years 18 days (1056 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn


Joseph Sonnabend

Joseph Adolph Sonnabend (6 January 1933 – 24 January 2021) was a South African physician, scientist and HIV/AIDS researcher, notable for pioneering community-based research, the propagation of safe sex to prevent infection, and an early multifactorial model of AIDS.

As one of the first physicians to notice among his gay male patients the immune deficiency that would later be named AIDS, during the 1980s and 1990s he treated many hundreds of HIV-positive people.

During the height of the AIDS crisis, Sonnabend helped create several AIDS organisations, including the AIDS Medical Foundation (now amfAR), the nonprofit Community Research Initiative (now ACRIA), which pioneered community-based research, and the PWA Health Group, the first and largest formally recognised buyers' club.

Sonnabend became controversial for advocating that gay men change their sexual behaviors to avoid sexually-transmitted infections, rather than to just have fewer sexual partners, as advocated by Gay Men's Health Crisis and other gay community organizations and for hypothesizing a multi-factorial model of causation, including for a period of time after discovery of HIV.

He was widely respected as a pioneering and compassionate clinician and researcher.

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